In its first North American foray, Solvay SA joint venture Pipelife International has purchased Jet Stream Plastic Pipe Co. of Siloam Springs, Ark. Pipelife bought Jet Stream from its family-owned parent company, Winrock Enterprises Inc. of Little Rock, Ark. Terms of the May 2 deal were not disclosed.
Pipelife International was formed in December as a joint venture between Brussels, Belgium-based Solvay and Wienerberger Baustoffindustrie AG of Vienna, Austria — an affiliate of Koramic Building Products SA.
The two teamed together to strengthen their presence in the growing global PVC pipe market.
With $46 million in 1999 sales and a capacity of 100,000 pounds a year, Jet Stream seemed like a good place to plant Pipelife's North American roots, Miguel Kohlmann, Pipeline chief executive officer, said in a company news release.
Pipelife makes PVC pipe and fittings, as well as sheaths for electricity, gas, heating and telecommunications systems. Jet Stream concentrates solely on PVC pipe for water, sewer and drainage applications.
"It's still in the project phase right now, but the idea would be to expand Jet Stream's product range" by adding some of Pipelife's products to Jet Stream's roster, spokesman Martiale Tardy said from Solvay headquarters in Brussels.
That means there probably will be some expansion at the Arkansas facility, he added, because "we regard the U.S. market as [having] good growth potential."
According to the "World Plastic Pipe Report," released in March by Freedonia Group of Cleveland, North America will continue to be the world's largest PVC pipe market.
"Our first priority is to learn to work together with Jet Stream, and we will definitely keep an eye open for new opportunities," Tardy said.
He would not elaborate on acquisitions the company may be interested in or when those might occur.
Though Solvay has managed to build a $7 billion business, it hopes to incorporate some of Jet Stream's management practices into Pipelife, Tardy said.
"Jet Stream has been managed so efficiently, we could learn something from them," he added.
Jet Stream employs 135 and runs 14 extrusion lines.